Reliance Communications (RCom), the country’s fifth largest telecom operator led by Anil Ambani (pictured), has raised 3G mobile internet rates by 26% and reduced benefits on internet packages by up to 60%.
RCom has also increased the cost of 1GB of 3G internet usage to Rs 156 from Rs 123. The Rs 123 mobile internet pack on its 3G network will now offer only 400 MB of internet surfing.
Further, under the high-value 3G mobile internet packs costing Rs 246 and Rs 492, RCom has reduced usage limit from 2GB to 1.5 GB and from 4GB to 3GB, respectively.
RCom’s new 3G rates are still 40% cheaper than other players’ tariffs. Typically, the latter’s 3G data packs start around Rs 250. The latest RCom 3G rates are now on par with 2G mobile internet rates of Airtel, Idea and Vodafone.
Rcom’s hikes came on a day when rival telco Idea Cellular cut its international roaming rates by 95% for data and 80% for voice in 40 countries, following similar moves by other industry players.
In July, RCom had slashed 3G tariffs by 50%, bringing 3G data tariffs on par with 2G data tariffs.
This move sparked a data tariff war, with other operators also drastically slashing 3G data tariffs to target first-time mobile internet users, at a time when subscriber additions are sparse and voice calling revenues are at their lowest since the last few years.
An analyst, requesting anonymity, said, “While it is unlikely that other telcos (telecom companies) will again raise their 3G tariffs now, they may hold on to their higher rates, if RCom’s new rates are viewed positively by subscribers.”
RCom’s hikes may have been due to lack of sufficient traffic or lack of expected increase in market share even with industry-lowest rates, he said. Or, low rates offered so far may have been part of a promotional offer to attract more subscribers.
RCom, he said, will likely ensure its data tariffs are the lowest since it is seen going aggressive on data, especially with the recent iPhone 5c and 5s bundled data offers.
As on September 30, RCom had 9.1 million 3G customers in all the 13 circles covering over 333 towns, out of 116 million mobile subscriber base on its network. RCom was unavailable for comment for this report.